After restraining order, State Patrol says it will halt use-of-force, detainment tactics toward press

A police officer prepares to fire a less-lethal round at demonstrators during a protest over Sunday's fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop, outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. Photo: John Minchillo/Associated Press. A police officer prepares to fire a less-lethal round at demonstrators during a protest over Sunday's fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop, outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn.

Kyle Brown
Updated: April 17, 2021 06:33 PM
Created: April 17, 2021 06:26 PM

The Minnesota State Patrol on Saturday issued a statement responding to the temporary restraining order granted by a federal judge that prohibits state law enforcement from using force against or arresting members of the news media.

The restraining order was handed down Friday night after plaintiffs, including the Communication Workers of America and local freelance journalist Jared Goyette, alleged police had been firing rubber bullets at journalists, ordering them to disperse despite their exemption to curfew orders and "other acts impeding the press's ability to observe and report about," the protests going on in Brooklyn Center.

One of the most graphic examples circulated on social media came from Star Tribune photographer Mark Vancleave. On Saturday he tweeted X-ray images of his finger, which was fractured in two places after he was struck by a rubber bullet while covering protests Monday night in Brooklyn Center. "I won’t be able to pick up my camera again for at least six weeks," he wrote in the tweet.

Other journalists covering the demonstrations have been detained by state troopers, who have taken pictures of their faces, credentials and state-issued identifications before releasing them. The State Patrol claims no journalists covering the protests have been arrested.

Federal judge grants restraining order stopping Minnesota law enforcement from arresting, using force against journalists

According to the State Patrol's statement on Saturday, troopers will discontinue the practice of photographing journalists and will only ask to check credentials. It also said law enforcement will no longer tell news media to go to a designated area to cover events.

In light of the restraining order, the State Patrol said troopers cannot enforce dispersal orders against members of the press; arrest or use force against journalists, or threaten to do so; using chemical irritants against journalists; or seize equipment from journalists or order them to stop recording or observing events.

The State Patrol said the guidance issued to troopers on Saturday does not preclude them from conducting mass arrests "should that become necessary." The releases states troopers may order journalists to leave the area during mass arrests and escort them from the scene.


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